All eyes are on a small courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin as Kyle Rittenhouse stands trial after shooting three men during a protest on August 25, 2020. As the defense presented its case, Kyle Rittenhouse made the decision to testify before the court. During his lengthy testimony, Rittenhouse revisited the night of the shooting, explained his reasoning for being in Kenosha and told the court why he had an AR-15. While he revisited this night and recalled the moment he opted to shoot multiple people, Rittenhouse had an emotional outburst that drove the court into a 10-minute break.
"I didn't do anything wrong, I was defending myself," he said.
In the aftermath of Rittenhouse's emotional outburst, clips of the defendant crying made their way around social media. A number of people joked about the video clip while others felt that Rittenhouse's reaction was choreographed. Among those who called otu Rittenhouse was NBA superstar LeBron James.
Beyond James' tweet, there were a number of discussions about how Rittenhouse's emotional outburst would impact the jury's verdict. Legal experts felt that his outburst may sway the jury away from a conviction because he appeared "very human" and "genuine."
“From what I saw, he solidified his defense and showed himself to be very human,” defense attorney Phil Turner told NBC Chicago.
“His crying appeared very genuine. I think the jury got more of a sense of him as a young person. It's always a difficult decision to put someone on the stand . . . but from what I could see of the cross-examination, it was way off-target.”
In response to the analysis provided by Turner and several defense attorneys, some have questioned why that the descriptions of "human" and "genuine" aren't offered to Black defendants who show emotion in court.
"Then infantilization of Kyle Rittenhouse on this site is something. He’s given the benefit & grace of youth that black boys in our criminal justice system are not. Imagine Demarcus Johnson traveling across state lines murdering 2. He would’ve been shot by police but you get it," former South Carolina state lawmaker Bakari Sellers tweeted.
"Thinking about how the Exonerated 5 were all younger than Kyle Rittenhouse when they took the stand and how their cries meant nothing," ABC contributor LZ Granderson tweeted.
After eight days of back and forth and a year's worth of pain for several families, the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse will likely come to an end on Friday. The 18-year-old shooter faces charges of first-degree homicide, attempted homicide, reckless endangerment and possessing a weapon while under the age of 18. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
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